At seven-ish in the morning I get up. The house is quiet. I use the bathroom, wash my hands. I notice the oven is on and when I peer in, I behold three perfectly oiled up potatoes. I realize Nels has stayed up all night – and this occurs to me right at the point he cheerfully pops his head in the door, pleased to see me awake. He asks me something, but I’m headed to bed. I can’t remember how I respond. I am back next to Ralph, and I fall asleep quickly.
A couple hours later and my husband wakes me, rising up from the bed. I look over and there’s my son: his belly full of hot potatoes, presumably, sleeping like he’d fallen a great height into the bedclothes.
Twelve hours later, at the end of the long day, he’s still asleep. I am working in the office and I hear him say, “Hello?” – his voice sounding much younger than his thirteen years. I go to cuddle him close; he is dismayed he’s slept through the daylight. “Nels,” I ask: “How many potatoes did you eat, out of curiosity?” “Two and a half,” he whispers. Still waking up. A few moments later he is in the kitchen, crouching on the tile in his t-shirt and underwear. His hair is wild and his eyes wide.
“You can play your game tonight. And when dad gets up, you can hang out with him. Allison is coming over for dinner tomorrow. And tomorrow night you can sleep with Mama,” I tell them. I watch his mind work, as he determines this is a sensible course of action. He cheers immediately.
When I was his age I was letting the disrespectful boys around the way teach about French kissing and stealthy groping. Ugh. If nothing else, I am providing my children with a hundred percent more wholesome upbringing.
Yesterday: we called upon a new acquaintance, to see a litter of kittens. I thought I’d feel good after holding them but I just wanted to hold them a lot longer. They are two days old and their eyes aren’t open. I found myself feeling anxious after we left. It’s only been a little over a year since Trout’s litter died in our hands. It seems I can’t get my mind around what my responsibility to it all is.